Advancing Automotive with Software-Defined Vehicles

Ron DiGiuseppe

Feb 14, 2023 / 4 min read

What we’ve been witnessing in the past few years—particularly with automakers and Tier 1 suppliers investing in software-defined vehicle development—means the automotive industry will grow tremendously both upward in the total number of vehicles as well as horizontally with different innovations in the space coming to fruition. The only way forward is for technology firms and automakers to work more closely than ever before.

As we predicted, software will remain an essential component to fuel automotive advancements this year. With a growing demand for smarter and more connected cars, software-defined vehicles offer agility and greater customization options to enhance the driving experience for consumers.

As more companies roll out their respective vehicles, the race to own the software-defined vehicle’s future is already in progress. We witnessed some of these trends at CES 2023, which showcased a significant focus on software-defined vehicles as well as vehicle electrification and autonomous vehicles. Read on to learn about these three trends and what companies should know if they want to succeed in the automotive technology race.

Electrification is Growing at a Steady Pace

Substantial market players and even startups across the globe are hoping to get a slice of the pie fueled by electrification. The market continues to be driven by electric vehicles, and OEMs are executing to meet government goals and fulfill consumer appetite for sustainable transportation options.

As the growing number of electric vehicles sold tops almost 15 million expected sales in 2023, we’ll also see more focus on design and user experience, with pickup trucks like the Ram 1500 on the road. Vans and trucks are also expected to reach 600,000 global sales in 2023, an 80% increase from 2022, according to Bloomberg.

While Volkswagen, Mercedes, and Hyundai are a few companies that have already made strides in electrification, new entrants such as Togg and VinFast also announced new EVs. In addition to passenger EVs, CES 2023 showcased non-passenger vehicles such as a fully electric excavator by John Deere and the Candela C-8, an electric boat powered by battery packs.

New Use Cases for Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles are making headways, just not in the way the world expected.

Be it Motional’s new electric IONIQ 5-based robotaxi delivering its first ride with Lyft or Toyota’s Boshoku already in use for rideshares in Japan or as a rented room for meetings, we’ve seen many new use cases of autonomous vehicles, and specifically, a new emphasis on shared mobility. For example, geographically constrained autonomous shuttles are ideal for city infrastructures where reducing carbon emissions is a goal. Progress on public transit is also being made, as seen with ZF and Beep autonomous shuttles and others, but more development is needed before they are commercially viable.

Another development is BMW’s newest concept for an electric vehicle, introduced as the “i Vision Dee.” The car focuses on more than just self-driving and instead is about giving the driver the information they need at that moment. BMW announced production of the design will start in 2025. Separately, NVIDIA announced its partnership with Foxconn, who will incorporate NVIDIA’s DRIVE Orin chip and DRIVE Hyperion sensors in its autonomous vehicle platforms to speed up its time-to-market and time-to-cost strategies.

Sensors are also playing a critical role in modern vehicles. Bosch has been a big player in MEMS sensors, LiDAR, and image sensors and recently introduced the RideCare Companion solution that aims to increase safety while ridesharing. Other examples include improved capabilities in LiDAR sensors like longer range from Mobileye and a substantial cost reduction from Innoviz Technologies.

Then, you have autonomous driving systems being used in industrial applications such as trucks for farming as well as others like racing, mining, or boats. Similar to shared mobility, the challenge of quickly commercializing these vehicles is on everyone’s mind. Recent industry collaboration, such as Continental and Ambarella as well as Magna and LG, will help advance the integration of hardware and software solutions going forward.

The Future Relies on Software-Defined Vehicles

From offering advanced safety and convenience features to enabling additional functions for the vehicle experience, software-defined vehicles are taking the automotive industry by storm, becoming a crucial enabler for mobility innovation. At CES, we saw the growing reliance on software for all applications for the car–from the exterior color to heated seatbelts to ADAS. This will lead to a transformation in the software ecosystem, with more tech companies embracing the concept of software-defined vehicles.

The cities we live in are only getting smarter, and the technology used continues to get far more complex. While vehicles have always required sophisticated hardware systems, it’s clear that the integration of software cannot be left on the side of the road.


Both software and hardware must be accounted for to ensure software-defined vehicle success. Since new use cases are always on the horizon, a hardware platform with computing capability and flexibility is necessary. But the complexity and availability of hardware is making it harder to bring products out to market, bringing superior software development to the forefront.

This allows Synopsys to play a significant role in integrating with existing ecosystems, providing technology that enables OEMs, semis, Tier 1s, and researchers to capitalize on the growing software-defined vehicle market. Synopsys is already engaging with these groups to help bring new concepts to the forefront sometime in the near future and help companies build and scale production.

The road ahead is an uphill ride, and we are excited to continue to design the future of automotive with software-defined vehicles and ultimately, push mobility forward for this new era of vehicles.

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